Port of South Louisiana Sees Continued Annual Cargo Growth

Focus Is on Strengthening Partnerships With Global Shippers
Port of South Louisiana
Founded in 1960, the Port of South Louisiana is a 54-mile port district on the Mississippi River. (Port of South Louisiana via YouTube)

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The Port of South Louisiana experienced a second year of increased cargo that rose 8.8 million short tons of cargo in 2023 to counter a period of declining annual tonnage.

“Numbers tell the story, and the Port of South Louisiana is telling a tale of resurgence,” port CEO Paul Matthews proclaimed recently. “Through relentless innovation and strategic leaps, we’re scripting a narrative of growth, and the recent tonnage numbers underscore our port’s global appeal and versatility.

Last year, the port handled 248.1 million short tons of cargo, which was the second consecutive year of net tonnage increases after 2022’s handling of 239.2 million short tons that passed through the port.

Founded in 1960, the Port of South Louisiana is a 54-mile port district on the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, bearing the title of the nation’s top grain exporter and second-largest energy transfer port. Its footprint includes seven grain transfer facilities, four major oil refineries and 11 petrochemical manufacturing plants.

Matthews said port officials are “focused on strengthening our partnerships with global shippers and industry along the Mississippi River.” In December, port officials signed a memorandum of understanding with the Central Ohio River Business Association to explore mutually beneficial ventures.

“The reversal of a long-standing six-year trend characterized by annual net decreases is a significant accomplishment for the port. This positive shift underscores the port’s adaptability and resilience in responding to evolving market dynamics,” according to a port statement. “The recent fiscal year brought additional cause for celebration, as the Port of South Louisiana achieved its highest revenue in history.”

Annual cargo volumes increased in several categories in 2023, with the highest jump (463%) seen in sugar/molasses at 218,000 short tons, followed by chemicals/fertilizers with 30.5 million short tons (75% higher) and animal feed’s 12 million short tons (40% more).

Paul Matthews


Double-digit annual percentage increases last year also were recorded for steel products (up 26%) to 4.7 million short tons, crude oil (17%) at 58.9 million short tons, concrete/stone products (16%) at 2.91 short tons and wheat (13%) to 3.7 million short tons.

Port officials will build a second access bridge to its general cargo dock to optimize efficient cargo transfer by enabling trucks to follow a circular route to load/unload on the dock. The new infrastructure also will enhance the port’s capabilities for handling heavy loads, including oversize equipment.

The Port of South Louisiana plays the role of an important contributor to global food and fuel supply. During the 2023 fiscal year, the port handled 3,554 vessels and 46,640 barges.

“While navigating the complexities of global trade, the Port of South Louisiana has not only reversed a historical trend with a remarkable surge in cargo but also demonstrated adaptability and resilience in an ever-evolving market,” noted Ryan Burks, chairman of the port’s board of commissioners.

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